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Stampede of animals comes to Besser Museum

November 17, 2012
By DIANE SPEER - News Lifestyles Editor , The Alpena News

Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan has taken advantage of its always popular Season of Light displays to show off its new wildlife collection of over 50 mounts from around the world.

Just in the time for the holiday season, Wilson Gallery is currently filled with a premiere collection that was donated to the museum by Cranbrook Institute of Science.

"Cranbrook had a surplus of mounts that they donated to us," said Collections Manager Randy Shultz. "The mounts are from all over the world Africa, Asia, Russia and North America."

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The mounts have been place on stands with several colorful murals by artist Betsy Willis as a backdrop to create the illusion of a natural habitat as opposed to a trophy room, Shultz said.

Already the museum has received inquiries from a number of school groups interested in bringing students by to see and learn about the various animals that include everything from impalas, warthogs and zebra to ibex, wildebeast and moose.

Besser Museum first became aware that the mounts were available when a local teacher attended a workshop earlier this year at Cranbrook, learned that the facility was looking to get rid of the surplus animals and told the museum about it. Shultz quickly contacted Cranbrook and made arrangements to pick them up and transport them to Alpena.

It took several weeks of detailing and cleaning the animals as well as building the stands before the mounts could be placed on display. Museum staff also hauled in two trailers full of sand, two of gravel and two of mulch to help set the scene inside the gallery. Lots of dried grasses also were added to the gallery space to further enhance the feel of an African plain for some of the animals.

A display area leading into the gallery also shows off the animals that local hunters in Northeast Michigan would be more likely to see, such as deer, elk and bear.

The wildlife exhibit rounds out this year's Season of Light, which also includes the Trees of Nations, a Dickens Christmas Village display, festive Avenue of Shops and Home for the Holidays Gift Shop. The gift shop features a wide variety of arts and crafts items created by 25 to 30 different vendors. The items range in price from $1 to $75.

For more information about the Season of Light, contact the museum at 356-2202.



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